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by Ken Zinns

Ken is a Bay Area architect with a passion for wine. After taking a few wine courses through UC Extension, he started becoming more "serious" about wine in the early '90s. Ken has been taking wine-tasting trips to the Central Coast since early '92, and has come to love the area - not only for the wines, which just get better year by year, but also for the people. Ken's interest in wine is more than passive, and he's been volunteering his help at several urban East Bay wineries since 2001 - and in fact was recently named assistant winemaker for both Eno Wines in Berkeley and Harrington Wine in San Francisco.

13th Annual RHONE RANGERS - March 28, 2010


Rhone Rangers - 2010
13th Annual San Francisco Wine Tasting

Report on the 13th annual wine tasting presented by the Rhone Rangers, on Saturday & Sunday, March 27-28, 2010, at Fort Mason in San Francisco. The event focuses on current releases of Rhône-varietal wines from the western part of the United States.

This year’s event included two tasting seminars – “Sommeliers Speak Out!” and “Grenache: Red, White, and Pink” – on Saturday afternoon, a winemaker dinner and auction on Saturday evening, a tasting seminar on “The Ageability of American Rhônes” on Sunday morning, and the Grand Tasting and silent auction on Sunday afternoon. The tasting notes below are from the Grand Tasting.

The Rhone Rangers organization is a non-profit group, which promotes the enjoyment of Rhône varietal wines produced in the United States. Although the term "Rhone Rangers" has been used since the 1980s to describe some of the early champions of Rhône-style wines in the US, the organization itself was not founded until 1997. There are currently about 200 wineries from California, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho that are members of the Rhone Rangers.


Overall impressions:

I was able to attend the two Saturday afternoon seminars this year in addition to the Sunday Grand Tasting. Jon Bonné of the San Francisco Chronicle moderated both seminars. Along with all the wines, a bottle of a new “palate-cleansing” water from SanTásti was provided for each seminar attendee. Very lightly sparkling, it was quite refreshing, and much preferable to the water handed out at the Sunday Grand Tasting – see below for that unfortunate choice.



Arnot-Roberts “Swindle Rig” ’09 Rosé
Jemrose ’08 Viognier
Katin ’08 Viognier
Lagier Meredith ’09 Rosé
L’Aventure ’08 Roussanne
Michaud ’06 Marsanne
Tercero ’09 Grenache Blanc
Villa Creek ’09 White

Arnot-Roberts ’08 Clary Ranch Syrah
Big Basin ’06 Rattlesnake Rock Syrah
Cline ’08 “Small Berry” Mourvèdre
Holly’s Hill ’08 Fenaughty Vineyard Old Vines Syrah
JC Cellars ’06 Ventana Vineyard Syrah
Lagier Meredith ’06 Syrah
Michaud ‘03 Syrah
Shane ’08 “The Unknown” Syrah
Skylark ’07 Rodgers Creek Vineyard Syrah
Sol Rouge ’07 Syrah
Tercero ’07 Thompson Vineyard Syrah
Terre Rouge ’08 “L’Autre”

The first session featured Nicole Burke of Salthouse and John Toulze of The Girl & the Fig, presenting small plates to be paired with various wines. Also on the seminar panel was Evan Goldstein, author of Perfect Pairings. Fresh Cod Brandade from Salthouse and Duck Confit Terrine from The Girl & the Fig were served with several sauce accompaniments to pair with a number of white, Rosé, and red wines from Arrowood, Edward Sellers, Tablas Creek, Skylark, Big Basin, Lagier Meredith, and Arnot-Roberts. It was remarkable how the different sauces changed the nature of the cod and duck dishes and made for some unexpected wine matches. Perhaps the most interesting was a veal stock/paprika sauce with the cod that really counteracted the saltiness of the basic dish and made it an excellent match with Syrahs from Lagier Meredith and Arnot-Roberts – not at all a wine pairing you’d expect with cod!

The second seminar was an exploration of Grenache. As Jon Bonné pointed out, Grenache is one of the most widely-planted red wine grapes in the world, yet still is a puzzlement to many due to the many styles in which it is produced. A crowded – perhaps too crowded – table of panelists included winemakers from Katin, Tercero, David Girard, Quivira, Unti, Curtis, Edward Sellers, Sol Rouge, and Stage Left. The wines included two whites, three Rosés, and four reds, representing a number of contrasting styles of Grenache sourced from many California growing regions. The lively discussion that accompanied the tasting seemed to raise as many questions as it answered…even if Grenache Rosé can age well, will Americans drink it…if blending can make a better wine than 100% Grenache, can it retain enough Grenache character…is Grenache Gris a distinct variety or just another clone (and an inferior one at that)…and on and on. An enlightening seminar, and a subject worthy of more in-depth investigation.

Many well-known producers of Rhône varieties from the west coast poured their wines at the Sunday Grand Tasting. This year’s winery representation was down from last year, but there were still just over 100 wineries pouring. Notables that poured last year but were missing this year included Cedarville, Edmunds St. John, Peay, and Ramey, while Big Basin was one of the more exciting newcomers to the event. A few previews of soon-to-be-released wines were poured in addition to the current releases.

With fewer winery tables at the event this year, the crowd (which seemed to be down this year as well) was nicely dispersed, and few tables were so packed to make it difficult to get a pour. There was a relaxed atmosphere throughout the afternoon, a welcome difference from the craziness of many large wine tastings. As was the case last year, it would have been nice if more dump buckets had been provided, but that’s a minor nit-pick with what was a very well-organized event. In addition to numerous bread and cheese stations throughout the large hall, many exhibitors offered tempting tastes of other fine cheeses, sausages, olive oil, chocolates, and many other treats. The one notable mis-step was handing out bottled water that I discovered after one sip had a strong and lingering peppermint flavor – hardly what you want to refresh your palate at a wine tasting!

I teamed up once again with Grape-Nutz veteran Al Osterheld for the tasting. As we’ve done before, we tasted whites and rosés first, and then headed back around the hall for the reds. We paced ourselves pretty well this year, but it’s still not possible to get to all the wines we would have liked. A handful of tables ran out of wine midway through the afternoon, but most stayed to the end of the event.

We decided to hold off on tasting at some wineries (most notably Qupé and Tablas Creek) that we knew we’d have a chance to taste with at other upcoming events. Among the newer wineries – with just a few vintages released – ones that impressed me included Arnot-Roberts, Katin, and Tercero. Of course there were some long-time favorites that we made sure to visit along the way as well. In addition to wines from California AVAs up and down the state, we sampled wines from Oregon (Folin, Quady North, and one Syrah from Katin) and Idaho (Coiled and Sawtooth). A couple of non-Rhône wines sneaked into the tasting (shhhh!).

I felt there were more standout wines this year than I recall from the past few tastings, particularly among the Syrahs. And I thought more wineries had strong line-ups across the board than in some past years. Overall, I sensed that more producers are dialing back on ripeness and on new oak, a welcome development in my view. As always, this is a fun and educational event.

Selected Tasting Notes:

2009 Swindle Rig Rosé, Sonoma County. All Grenache, foot-trod and then pressed. Great fresh strawberry aromas with a touch of spice, good acidity and just a hint of tannin on the finish. Nice wine that offers more than the usual simple Rosé.
2008 Syrah, North Coast.All whole-cluster fermentation, co-fermented with 10% Viognier, no new barrels used for aging. Dark color, very floral on the nose with a strong stemmy/spicy component along with dark berry fruit. Nicely-structured, with a fairly tannic finish.
2008 Syrah, Clary Ranch, Sonoma Coast.All whole-cluster fermentation (only 20 brix at harvest and 11.5% alcohol), neutral oak. Lots of roasted meat and spice character along with blackberry and pepper, some youthful stemmy notes along with very lively acidity and big tannins. Very impressive cool-climate Syrah.
2008 Syrah, Hudson Vineyard North Block, Carneros, Napa Valley.50% whole-cluster fermentation, neutral oak. More fruit-forward than the Clary Ranch, with bright blackberry and pepper aromas and an intriguing mineral element. With huge, teeth-staining tannins on the finish, this needs time to mellow out.
2008 Syrah, Griffin’s Lair, Sonoma Coast.100% whole cluster fermentation. Loads of dark fruit, with iodine and meaty notes, this is easily the most rich, dense wine of the line-up. Tannic but the richness of the wine balances it out.
Comments: Swindle Rig is Arnot-Roberts’ second label for Rosé & whites – all made in stainless steel with no malolactic fermentation, and packaged in one-liter bottles. The Clary Ranch vineyard is in such a cold location that the fruit does not always ripen sufficiently to allow a vineyard-designate Syrah, but when it does – as in ’06 and ’08 – this is a knockout wine. Overall, a very fine line-up of wines.

Big Basin Vineyards
2009 “Aura” Rosé of Syrah, Monterey County / Santa Cruz County. Light pink color, fresh watermelon aromas, smooth and pleasant finish.
2007 Syrah, Monterey County / Santa Cruz Mountains. A 50/50 blend from the two appellations, this had medium color, minerally dark fruits along with roasted meat and sweet oak, with medium-big tannins, the most approachable of the ’07 Big Basin Syrahs.
2007 “Mandala” Syrah, Santa Cruz Mountains. A bit darker in the glass, with blackberry, baking spice, and coffee, lively mouthfeel, and a more tannic finish, nice now and should develop beautifully – sort of a “little brother” wine to the Rattlesnake Rock bottling.
2007 Syrah, Coastview Vineyard, Monterey County. Sourced from the Gavilan Mountains area, this was more herbal and peppery than the two preceding Syrahs, with rougher tannins.
2006 Syrah, Rattlesnake Rock Vineyard, Santa Cruz Mountains. More intense black fruit aromas with coffee and spice notes, vanilla/oak, and a stony, mineral element running through it all. Big, tannic structure built for aging, one of the best Santa Cruz Mountains Syrahs I’ve tasted.
2007 “Odeon,” Santa Cruz Mountains. 60% Syrah, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. Dark color, showing more Cab character than Syrah, with herbal, plummy character, sweet oak, and very tannic finish.
Comments: An impressive group of wines, with the “Mandala” and Rattlesnake Rock Syrahs leading the way.

Black Sheep
2008 Cinsualt, Dusty Lane, California. Medium-light color, wild berry on the nose, lighter-bodied, fruit-forward, and with lower acidity, this doesn’t aim for anything complex, but it’s a pleasantly smooth and tasty wine.

Carina Cellars
2008 Viognier, Central Coast.Ripe floral and tropical fruit aromas, a fleshy style that’s smooth, round, and easy to drink.

Cline Cellars
2008 “Ancient Vines” Mourvèdre, Contra Costa County. Medium-dark color, plum, earth, and rare meat along with sweet oak notes on the nose, medium-bodied and not too tannic.
2008 “Small Berry” Mourvèdre, Contra Costa County. Medium-dark, less fruit-forward than the “Ancient Vines” with very earthy, leathery character along with darker fruits and less apparent oak. Bigger mouthfeel with more grippy tannins on the finish, nice.

Coiled Wines
2008 Syrah, Snake River Valley. From a 2,700-foot elevation vineyard on volcanic soil, all destemmed fruit. Medium-dark color, raspberry, plum, and spice on the nose, with an oaky undertones, the was medium-bodied with moderate tannins.
Comments: Made in Napa Valley, the fruit source in Idaho’s Snake River Valley for the winery’s initial release led to the “Coiled” name. Winemaker Leslie Preston previously worked at Stags’ Leap Winery.

Curtis Winery
2008 Viognier, Santa Ynez Valley.Made in stainless steel, with batonnage. Light color, ripe stone fruit aroma, a bigger, richer style with a long smooth finish.
2008 Roussanne, Santa Ynez Valley. Made in stainless steel and neutral oak, with batonnage. Slightly darker yellow, featuring a leaner, more minerally character than the Viognier with nice balance and lively finish.
2006 “The Crossroad,” Santa Ynez Valley. 80% Grenache, 20% Syrah. Medium-light color, lots of spicy red fruits with an oak overlay, medium-bodied with moderate tannins.
2006 Mourvèdre, Santa Ynez Valley. Medium-dark color, this had much more noticeable vanilla/oak aromas along with darker fruits. Fairly mouthfilling and smooth, but not much typicalMourvèdre character.

Derby Wine Estates
’07 “Fifteen10” White, Derby Vineyard, Paso Robles. 40% Marsanne, 40% Roussanne, 20% Viognier. Ripe tropical fruit and stone fruit on the nose, a fairly big, rich style, with a smooth finish.

Edward Sellers Vineyards & Wines
2008 Viognier, Paso Robles.Light color, ripe stone fruit with oak undertones, rich and mouthfilling, pleasant finish.
2008 "Estate Blanc," Paso Robles. 56% Grenache Blanc, 28% Roussanne, 16% Marsanne. Very light color, apple/pear aromas with some background vanilla/oak notes, crisper acidity than the Viognier with a touch of minerality on the finish.

Folin Cellars
2007 Viognier, Estate, Rogue Valley.Made mostly in 55-gallon stainless steel drums, with some neutral oak. Light color, shy aromatics with some floral and leesy notes, leaner style with fruit somewhat in the background.
Comments: Folin is a fairly new venture, with ’05 being their first vintage. They grow Tempranillo, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Viognier, Syrah, and Petite Sirah at their vineyard. They’ve been using Vino-Lok glass closures for their bottles.

Holly’s Hill Vineyards
2008 Grenache Noir, El Dorado.Light garnet color, bright fresh mountain strawberry aroma, lighter-bodied style but with grippy Grenache tannins on the finish.
2008 Mourvèdre “Classique,” El Dorado. Medium color, ripe plum and spice on the nose with some earthy undertones, medium-bodied and not too tannic.
2008 “Petit Patriarche,” El Dorado. 52% Mourvèdre, 28% Counoise, 13% Syrah, 7% Petite Sirah. Medium-light color, displaying ripe blueberry and plum notes with some mineral undertones. Medium mouthfeel with milder tannins.
2007 Syrah, Wylie-Fenaughty, El Dorado. Medium color, dark berry aromas along with floral, spice, and coffee elements. Medium-rich on the palate with mineral notes and refined tannins.
2008 Syrah, Fenaughty Vineyard, Old Vines, El Dorado. Slightly lighter color than the Wylie-Fenaughty, pretty floral character on the nose along with darker fruits, a bit lighter-bodied with brighter acidity and a distinct stony, mineral component, finishing with moderate tannins. A very distinctive Syrah that reveals its El Dorado origins nicely.
Comments: Tasting through some of Holly’s Hill’s most recent releases, I found several of the bottlings featured the minerality that wines from this area can sometimes display.

JC Cellars
2006 Syrah, Ventana Vineyard, Arroyo Seco. Medium-dark color, showing herbal, meaty, peppery character along with dark berry fruit and spice, lively on the palate with moderate tannins. Very fine example of Syrah from this part of Monterey County.
2006 Syrah, Rockpile Vineyard, Rockpile. A bit darker color, with more upfront fruit than the Ventana bottling, and loads of black pepper. Bigger and more mouthfilling texture, with grippier tannins on the finish.
Comments: A couple of very fine Syrahs that showed two different sides of the grape.

Jemrose Vineyards
2008 Viognier, Egret Pond Vineyard, Bennett Valley. Fermented in stainless steel and aged in neutral oak, with partial malolactic. Light color, very aromatic fresh stone fruit with a touch of spice, medium-rich with a creamy mouthfeel, lively acidity and bright, clean finish, very nice.
2007 Grenache, Foggy Knoll Vineyard, Bennett Valley. All destemmed fruit, 5% Syrah. Medium-light color, fresh strawberry and spice on the nose, medium-bodied with fairly mild tannins.
2007 Syrah, Cardiac Hill Vineyard, Bennett Valley. From five Syrah clones, 30% whole-cluster fermentation with 30% new oak. Medium-dark color, dark berry fruit with floral overtones, along with savory and spicy notes, a big and structured wine with grippy tannins.
2007 “Gloria’s Gem,” Bennett Valley. 40% Syrah, 60% Merlot. Medium-dark color, the aromatics and flavors lean more toward the Merlot / Bordeaux side, with black cherry and herb elements, rich mouthfeel and moderately big tannins.
Comments: The Jemrose wines continue to be impressive, showing very good cool-climate character throughout their line-up.

2008 White, Paso Robles.25% each Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne, Grenache Blanc, sourced from Alta Colina Vineyard, made in stainless steel with batonnage and partial malolactic. Light color, leesy pear and stone fruit aromas, fairly rich mouthfeel but retaining good acidity.

2008 Grenache Blanc, Paso Robles.100% Grenache Blanc. Very light color, bright, fresh apple on the nose, moderately lively on the palate with a pleasant finish.
2008 Viognier, Paso Robles. Very floral aroma along with ripe stone fruits, richer mouthfeel than the Grenache Blanc with a smooth finish, nice “bigger”-style Viognier.
2007 Syrah, Michaud Vineyard, Chalone. Medium color, blackberry and pepper, a restrained style that features a chalky minerality in the mouth, with grippy tannins.
2007 Syrah, Del Rio Vineyard, Rogue Valley. Medium color, more fruit-forward than the Michaud bottling with a very spicy character, a bit bigger on the palate and moderately tannic.
2007 Syrah, Glenrose Vineyard, Paso Robles. Medium-dark color, more upfront and ripe dark fruits, richer mouthfeel but retaining good acidity, medium tannins on the finish.
Comments: A very good line-up of wines from a promising new producer, I especially liked the Michaud and Del Rio Syrahs.

Lagier Meredith Vineyard
2009 Rosé of Syrah, Mount Veeder. Light pink color, fresh watermelon and red fruit aromas with floral undertones, smooth mouthfeel with good acidity and a bright, clean finish, a very fine Rosé.
2006 Syrah, Mount Veeder. Medium-dark, with a strong meaty/savory element along with black pepper and dark berry fruit. Very nice acidity, structure and balance, with medium-big tannins.
2007 Syrah, Mount Veeder. Medium-dark color, this shows more upfront fruit along with bigger pepper and spice components. Like the ’06, this displays lots of structure for aging.
Comments: Lagier Meredith is consistently one of my favorite Syrah producers, and these wines did not disappoint. Tough to choose among the two, but I thought the ’06 showed a bit more complexity, probably from the bottle age – the ’07 will be outstanding as well, though. Their small-production Rosé was terrific too.

L’Aventure Winery
2008 Roussanne, Paso Robles. Light color, leesy and waxy with undertones of sweet oak, rich and mouthfilling with a smooth finish, nice.

Lone Madrone
2008 “La Mezcla,” Paso Robles. 70% Grenache Blanc, 30% Albariño. Very light color, citrus aromas, light and crisp on the palate, clean and fresh finish.
2007 “Points West,” Paso Robles. 100% Roussanne from three Westside vineyards. Light color, less upfront fruit than the “La Mezcla” with more leesy character along with melon and spice notes and a touch of oak, moderately rich, with a smooth finish.

Michaud Vineyard
2006 Marsanne, Chalone. Light straw color, complex aromatics of citrus and honeydew melon with underlying lees and spice, creamy mouthfeel along with mineral notes, long smooth finish, very distinctive and attractive wine.
2002 Syrah, Chalone. This vintage was the second Syrah harvest from the vineyard. Medium-dark color with a slight reddish tinge, ripe plum and darker fruits with a strong herbal component, medium-bodied with nicely-resolved tannins.
2003 Syrah, Chalone. Medium purple color, more restrained aromas of dark berries, black pepper, and wet stones, together with a hint of sweet oak. Great acidity and structure, this should continue to age well for years, very nice.
2004 Syrah, Chalone. Medium-dark color, with earthier but riper fruit character. Medium mouthfeel with fairly tame tannins.
2005 Syrah, Chalone. A bit darker color, the most fruit-forward of the four vintages, yet tightly-wound and tannic.
Comments: It was a treat to taste through a vertical of Michaud Syrahs, with each vintage distinctly different from the others. The ’03 was a standout, as was the exceptional ’06 Marsanne, my favorite white of the tasting.

Quady North
2007 Viognier, Applegate Valley.From a cooler-climate vineyard, 45% barrel-fermented. Light color, floral and stone fruit aromas, a leaner style with good acidity and lively finish.
2009 Rosé, Rogue Valley. Made from Grenache and Syrah, about 25% saignée. Light pink color, very aromatic strawberry with a touch of spice, clean and refreshing finish.
Comments: A newer winery launched by Herb Quady, son of well-known producer of dessert wines Andrew Quady. Missed getting back to taste the reds, but both the Viognier and Rosé were quite nice.

Sawtooth Winery
2007 Viognier, Snake River Valley.Made in neutral oak. Very light color, ripe stone fruit aromas with oak undertones, medium-bodied with a slightly bitter finish.

Shane Wine Cellars
2008 Syrah, “The Unknown,” North Coast.Medium-dark color, very strong savory, roasted meat aromas along with dark berry fruit and spice. Medium-bodied on the palate with good structure and balance, very nice.
2008 Syrah, “Judge Vineyard, Bennett Valley. 100% whole-cluster fermentation. More upfront, black fruits and loads of spice, without the green, stemmy character that young whole-cluster wines often have. Bigger mouthfeel than “The Unknown” with grippier tannins on the finish.
Comments: I was running short on time when I got to the Shane table so I only tasted a couple of their offerings, but both were impressive.

Skylark Wine Company
2008 Pinot Blanc, Orsi Vineyard, Mendocino County. Made half in stainless steel and half in neutral oak, with batonnage. Light straw color, aromas of pear and lees, medium weight on the palate with a slightly bitter finish.
2009 Rosé, Mendocino County. Saignée from Grenache, made in stainless steel drums with no malolactic fermentation. Extremely light salmon color, watermelon and a touch of spice on the nose, medium-bodied with a smooth finish.
2007 “Red Belly,” North Coast. 47% Carignane, 47% Syrah, 6% Grenache. Medium color, nose of candied red fruits, a straightforward easy-drinking blend.
2007 Grenache, Mendocino County. Medium color, red fruits and spice, fairly lively mouthfeel with bigger tannins.
2007 Syrah, Rodgers Creek Vineyard, Sonoma Coast. Medium-dark color, dark berry fruit along with a lots of grilled meat and black pepper overtones, this is a big, mouthfilling wine with nice structure and a moderately-grippy finish.
Comments: I thought Skylark’s Rodgers Creek Syrah was one of the standouts of last year’s tasting, and it remained a top wine this year.

Sol Rouge
2007 Viognier, Russian River Valley. Very light color, floral and leesy aromas, rich and smooth on the palate with moderate acidity.
2007 “Gypsy Blanc,” Russian River Valley / Lake County. 48% Marsanne, 48% Roussanne, 4%Viognier. Light color, stone fruit and spice, plus a lees note, medium-bodied and lively mouthfeel with a clean finish, nice.
2008 Rosé, Lake County. Medium-light pink color, bright strawberry on the nose, a bit bigger and richer than most Rosés at the tasting but not heavy.
2006 Grenache, Lake County. Light color, strawberry and other red fruits, quite spicy, lighter-bodied with fairly tame tannins.
2006 “The Gypsy,” Lake County. 84% Grenache, 13% Mourvèdre, 3% Syrah & Petite Sirah. Medium-light color, strawberry and raspberry on the nose, medium weight on the palate, with a tangy and moderately tannic finish.
2007 Mourvèdre, Lake County. 100% Mourvèdre. Medium-light color, plum and earth aromas with spice undertones, medium-bodied and not too tannic.
2007 Syrah, Lake County. Medium-dark color, ripe blackberry, lots of spice, and a dash of black pepper, very nice texture in the mouth and nicely-balanced, smooth finish with medium tannins, very nice.
Comments: A solid line-up from winemaker Bryan Kane, who also makes wine at VIE. Sourced mostly from Lake County, I thought the Syrah was a particular standout. (Disclosure – I did some work during the ’09 crush for Sol Rouge and VIE wineries).

Tercero Wines
2006 Grenache Blanc, Camp 4 Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley. Very light color, slightly oxidized nose with an intriguing petrol component, a wine that’s past its prime but still interesting.
2008 Grenache Blanc, Camp 4 Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley. Light color, this has fresh apple aromas with a slightly leesy element, plus a touch of that petrol too. Lively mouthfeel and refreshing finish.
2009 Grenache Blanc, Camp 4 Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley. Very light straw color, with stronger aromatics than the ’08, showing slightly floral fresh apple / pear, moderate acidity, with a clean and tasty finish, very nice.
2009 “The Outlier,” Santa Ynez Valley. 100% Gewürztraminer, about 1% residual sugar and very low pH. Classic Gewürz nose of lychee and spice, light and lively with just a bit of noticeable sweetness on the finish.
2006 Rosé, Santa Barbara County. Another look at a wine that’s starting to fade, this very light salmon-colored Rosé displayed some ripe strawberry notes but was also a bit oxidized.
2008 Rosé, Santa Barbara County. 90% Grenache, 10% Mourvèdre. Light pink/salmon color, fresh watermelon and red fruits, lively mouthfeel with a touch of finishing tannin.
2007 Grenache, Watch Hill Vineyard, Santa Barbara County. Medium color, strawberry / red fruits, spice, and a touch of earth. Medium-bodied with moderately big tannins.
2007 Syrah, Larner Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley. Medium color, plummy and savory, with good acidity and nice balance, a bit more tannic on the finish.
2007 Syrah, Thompson Vineyard, Santa Ynez Valley. 25% whole-cluster fermentation. Darker color, spicy, earthy, leathery dark berry aromas – very representative of this vineyard – and not as fruit-forward as the Larner bottling. More full-bodied on the palate with a big, chewy finish, this should age well.
2007 “The Climb,” Santa Barbara County. 50% Thompson Vineyard Syrah, 50% Rodney’s Vineyard Petite Sirah. Medium-dark color, blueberry and darker fruits, more rich and mouth-coating than the two Syrah bottlings, with medium tannins on the finish.
2007 “Cuvée Christie,” Santa Barbara County. 64% Syrah, 18% Grenache, 18% Mourvèdre. Medium-dark color, riper blackberry fruit with loads of clove/spice. Medium weight on the palate, fairly viscous with a long, smooth finish.
Comments: Tercero is the label of Larry Schaffer, who also works at the Fess Parker family of wineries in Santa Barbara County. 2006 was the first vintage, and all the wines are bottled under screwcap. Larry poured lots of newer and older wines, an interesting look at how his wines are developing.

Terre Rouge
2003 Mourvèdre, Sierra Foothills. Medium color, meaty, earthy dark fruits, medium-bodied with a slightly tangy finish.
2007 “L’Autre,” Sierra Foothills. 73% Grenache, 15% Syrah, 12% Mourvèdre. Medium-light color, bright red fruits and spice with a hint of minerality, good acidity and structure, nice.

Terry Hoage Vineyards
2008 “The Gap” Cuvée Blanc, Paso Robles.60% Grenache Blanc (made in stainless), 40% Roussanne (mostly barrel-fermented). Medium-light color, ripe tropical fruit with some citrus notes, big and lush on the palate, smooth finish.

Truchard Vineyards
2008 Roussanne, Carneros, Napa Valley.Very light yellow color, pear and honeysuckle aromas with a light touch of oak, very nice texture and balance.

Villa Creek Cellars
2009 Pink, Paso Robles. From Grenache, Mourvèdre, Carignane, and Tempranillo. Very light salmon color, bright red fruits, lively mouthfeel and refreshing finish.
2009 White, Paso Robles. Blend of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, and Picpoul, mostly made in stainless steel. Very light straw color, fresh apple and melon aromas with spice and mineral overtones, nice acidity and balance with a long finish, very nice.


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